Grad’s first step: find use for diploma
By David Chang
Jun. 13, 2004 9:00 pm
That’ll be the question on every graduating senior’s
mind the moment he or she receives that hard-earned diploma during
this weekend’s commencement spree. It’s probably the
most important question you’ll have to answer for the rest of
Now that you’ve gotten a shiny piece of paper, what are
you going to do with it?
It’s a question that has baffled the greatest young minds.
There have even been documented cases of insanity due to this
mind-boggler (OK, there haven’t been, but there could
Let’s be honest: a diploma has as much value as a roll of
toilet paper. After four (or five) years of midterms, finals,
pass/no pass, overhead presentations and monotone professors, I
deserve more than a paper that has no apparent purpose.
Why can’t graduation be like a game show? I want to win a
new motor scooter, a free trip to Acapulco, Mexico, or a little
trophy with the statuette running heroically to turn in an essay.
Heck, I’ll even take the roll of toilet paper.
Instead I will be rewarded with a worthless piece of paper with
Ah-nuld’s John Hancock reprinted on it.
So what are you going to do with your diploma?
If you’re just going to frame it and hang it up on a wall,
then you’re, quite frankly, a boring person. But don’t
worry if you don’t have a creative bone in your body, here
are some sample ideas.
My computer science friend is putting his diploma to good use.
He’s scanning it and posting it as his desktop wallpaper.
Every time he turns on his computer, the sight will either inspire
him or bring back repressed memories of programming hell.
My engineer friend is going to construct a paper airplane out of
his diploma with “Arnold Schwarzenegger” facing out on
the side of the plane.
Damn, my friends called dibs on all the cool ideas.
How about rolling it up into my personal spitball shooter?
Maybe I could scan my diploma and iron the image on the front of
a T-shirt that’ll say “hire me” underneath the
I could put my diploma on eBay and auction it off to any David
Changs out there who desperately need a diploma. I’ve always
had a feeling I would end up in the black market.
What if I super-impose bits and parts of my diploma onto a shot
I could cut it up into a jigsaw puzzle, except there would be
too much white space for me to ever piece it back together.
Maybe I could go to Kinko’s, blow up my diploma 1,000
percent, and turn it into a sunshade for my car. When people try to
steal my car, they’ll at least notice that David Chang
graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with
degrees in history and sociology. Then they’ll steal the
Ultimately, I think I’ll laminate my diploma and turn it
into a placemat. Imagine seeing your diploma every time you drink
your morning coffee and grinning sheepishly because you can’t
believe you got away with doing nothing in college.
Then there’s the exhilaration of knowing that if the
coffee spills, your diploma-turned-placemat will be immune to all
of it. It’s also carry-on size so you can take it to
whichever restaurant you’re eating at.
A diploma is arguably the most overrated prize in the history of
overrated prizes, comfortably beating out stickers for the top
honor. You might as well have some fun with it.
E-mail Chang a graduation gift at